To be honest, baseball news in the Badger State is pretty slim now that the Greinke love fest has worn down and the Brew Crew faithful twiddle their thumbs waiting for pitchers and catchers to report.
If you dig around for a while you can find some interesting stuff though. Like the story of how former Brewer BJ Surhoff garnered at least one vote for a spot in the Hall of Fame. It’s the story of a promise between a beat writer and a young kid playing high school ball in New York.
First things first: I know. BJ Surhoff, while he does have some exceptional numbers both offensively and defensively, he does not have a HOF resume. So no having to worry about what cap his Cooperstown bust is going to wear; the two votes he gathered are far below the required five percent to continue to appear on the ballot.
So how did BJ manage to get any – let alone two – votes? Barry Stanton, the ESPN News Director, took a lot of flak for his ballot, and he responded to some of his criticism on a live chat on ESPN’s website. The transcript has been saved in several places around the Internet, and basically it comes down to the fact that Stanton was a beat writer in New York covering BJ’s brother Rich at a tournament. He saw BJ keeping up with the older kids there, and sort of followed his career from then on, making him a promise in high school that if Surhoff made it to the majors, he would get a HOF vote from Stanton. Well, the stars aligned, and BJ got Barry’s vote. End of story, right?
As it turns out, making a ballot as strange as Stanton’s is quite enough to turn you into the worst thing that has happened to Baseball’s storied past. Everyone who can write about sports even in the most marginal sense has jumped on this man’s back in an attempt to show just how important his shenanigans will be down the road.
But isn’t his story just the kind of sentimental Field of Dreams crap that makes baseball men and boys alike get all giddy when they step foot in a stadium? Stanton said “If voting for BJ cost someone who deserved entry, I wouldn’t have done it. And if the rules said that everybody who got one vote got in, then I definitely wouldn’t have done it. But it didn’t.” Sure some of his other votes are purely New York favoritism, but he earned the right to vote how he wanted and the fact those guys are on the ballots mean they earned the right to get a vote. The two favorites, Alomar and Blyleven, still got in by a lot.
I guarantee inside every one of Stanton’s critics is young boy who would vote for a player they loved unconditionally for one reason or another. The fact that he didn’t steal any one’s votes but fulfilled his decades-long promise at the same time is pretty cool. It certainly sounds better than the BBWA being a bunch of old, white elitists who try to keep the riff-raff out of their pristine hall.
So I guess what I’m saying is cut the guy a break. The people you want to stay out are out, and the ones you want in are in. Nobody loses in this situation. Nobody except for Barry Stanton.